Britain will not support Zimbabwe’s membership of the Commonwealth because of human rights violations by its security forces, Minister of State Harriett Baldwin said yesterday.
She told the House of Commons that she discussed Zimbabwe at the European Union-African Union ministerial meeting in Brussels on 21 January and will continue to raise the political and security situation in Zimbabwe with key interlocutors.
“I have not had any recent discussions with the Commonwealth Secretariat but officials from the FCO and DFID remain in regular contact. The UK would not support Zimbabwe’s membership of the Commonwealth at this time because of credible reports of human rights violations by the security forces,” she said in response to a question by Joan Ryan who wanted to know what recent discussions she had with the Commonwealth Secretariat and her Commonwealth counterparts on the political and security situation in Zimbabwe.
The next Commonwealth summit will be held in Rwanda next year.
Zimbabwe has been a subject of debate in the British parliament since the anti-government demonstrations of 14-16 January.
One British lord even suggested that Zimbabwe should be recolonized to end the present chaos.
Asked by Patrick Grady what support is being made available to Zimbabwe in light of the recent civil unrest and the disproportionate use of force by the security forces, Baldwin said:
“The UK aid programme in Zimbabwe provides specialised medical, counselling and legal assistance as well as extensive financial and technical assistance to a number of civil society organisations aimed at protecting and promoting human rights and upholding Zimbabwe’s democratic principles. In addition, we continue to provide humanitarian assistance and support to basic service provision to benefit the poorest Zimbabweans.”